2020 has been quite a ride for most of us. It certainly has helped me to reflect on Six West’s milestones and its future trajectory as we continue to grow and adapt to the developing demands of this industry.
2021 marks the sixth year of our company’s conceptualisation, a time dominated by brainstorming ideas and turning words into actions. It will mark our fifth year of operating aircraft on behalf of the world’s largest and most respected aircraft lessors from our Dublin, Ireland headquarters and the fourth year since we opened our subsidiary in Hong Kong to better serve our clients in the APAC region.
It’s our third year since opening our administration and finance offices in West Cork, Ireland and our branch in Grand Cayman. It marks our second year following what was a significant re-structure of the ownership and strategic direction of the company, during the very same year that will go down for all of us as the “COVID era” in history books yet to be written. The year of 2020 is set to be one of those defining moments in the evolution of so many industries around the world, not least of which will be our industry – aviation.
If I was to rewind further into recent history, the truth of the matter is in 2010, while working on another company I founded at the time, recruiting staff for airlines in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), I happened across a gentleman in Ireland working in the sector who mentioned to me in passing of an opportunity that still remained largely untapped. In a nutshell this was ‘providing quality, service based flight operations solutions to the aircraft leasing industry’.
He had planted the seed I needed and I couldn’t stop the idea rolling over in my mind. Initial, cursory research that I dove into at the time left me with the feeling the stars were not quite aligned for me to develop the concept properly. I placed the idea on the shelf of possibilities. Fast forward eleven years and countless stories and scenarios later, it is with a profound sense of pride and humility that I look at what today is a globally recognised name within the aircraft leasing industry.
Six West carries a hard earned, unquestionable reputation for consistently delivering the safest and highest quality of flight operations amongst the world’s leading aircraft lessors. From the humblest of beginnings, we are now operating hundreds of flights annually across the globe, having supported more than 70 clients and operated in 98 countries and counting. We now provide compelling alternatives to what was the established status quo. We have developed robust, accurate and timely data utilisation tools and applied predictive analytics which we see as part of the end game in exceeding our clients’ expectations with solutions. We are driven each day to operate in an increasingly perfect information environment that exists within a sphere of safety and regulatory compliance with no room for exceptions. We have been recognised by our industry peers with a 2019 shortlisting in the Dublin, Irish Aviation Awards, and a win in the 2019 Cork Business Awards for the Most Innovative Business.
The successful growth of Six West has taught me an wealth of encyclopedia-like lessons, usually presented when least expected and more often than not, when they do come, in shovel sized servings. Organically bootstrapping a start up in the aviation industry is about as risky as it gets and the past decade of lessons learned has left its marks on me in terms of wrinkles to be proud of and lessons learned, some of them harder than others. I would love to write several volumes on this topic but that task has been put aside for another day.
My own macro level snapshot of what Six West truly is can only come from one place, and that is the true strength of every person here and the compounded synergy of ‘team’. At the beginning of this journey I never anticipated how resounding the lessons of strength in teamwork would become. The sporting metaphor of selecting a team and then training together, hard, with a common purpose to achieve a positive result is so apt for what we do at Six West.
The training never stops and the commitment to achieving the results for our clients is the scoreboard our team has one eye on all of the time. We overcome injury, setback and unforeseen challenges. We also enjoy the team building, the training and the achievement of goals. We take care of each other, and more often than not it is a quiet and unseen helping hand, a phone call or a quiet coffee together that ultimately builds strength amongst us, allowing the consistent delivery of exceptional services which has now become our ‘norm’.
2020 has been a year of unforeseen tragedy for so many people, families and business organisations across the globe. Six West was not left unscathed and we have worked hard to continue to achieve the results we needed in an environment that posed challenges no one has seen before. The aircraft leasing industry is dealing with a set of metrics that have reached a scale nobody imagined a year ago and we have had to respond in kind with our own adaptations as the industry grapples for a way through the current business fog and seeks to build a realistic and a sustainable plan for the future.
A re-structure of our organisation this year allowed us to dispose of our private jet crewing business and provided a timely opportunity for us to refine our value proposition to aircraft lessors by affirming our long-term strategic commitment to the industry. We have conducted our own sector research to determine what is driving returns for lessors, what are the value markers to the business over the immediate and the long term and what is the impact on market lease rates post COVID, as well as how can Six West can position itself to anticipate our clients’ needs before they even arrive on our doorstep. We have used the opportunity of our re-structure to re-shape our Board of Directors, and attract a depth of experience and expertise that hitherto was not available to us. We have created new partnerships with regulatory bodies and promising ventures with innovative start-up companies who are seizing opportunities in the shifting landscape. We have attracted new investor opportunities that promise to add to our depth of talent, providing us with more tools to not only maintain our position as the leader in this industry, but to exceed even our own current capabilities.
We have worked tirelessly to build Six West and its reputation in an unforgiving industry, where reputation is everything. Our team has especially learned this year the inestimable value of resilience and the far-reaching effects of courage and we are confident in our position in serving our clients within the aircraft leasing industry as another year turns over and new horizons, full of hope, begin to unfold before us.
I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart who have contributed in small or large ways to the initial successful years of Six West and my pledge to you is that we will continue to deliver the world’s safest and most efficient solutions to the aircraft leasing industry.